tv [untitled] May 15, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm EDT
who devote their professional careers to this, would you agree that there are these individuals who are indeed professionals? >> yes, the offices of inspector general have many very dedicated and very professional and experienced people. >> and if we were to take a look, one of the four acting specials took over only four suspensions in the departments. most recently acting ig trent's office proposed 40 suspensions or debarments. similarly at the state department, before acting ig -- the igs office recovered recove leadership recovered funds
increased $10.7 million and to the number of investigations open has increased to 49. i guess what i'm really just simply pointing out is the fact that these individuals do in fact provide very effective services and that we are in good stead often times when they are placed in those offices, although they have not been permanently placed and i guess it does help, though, to try and speed up the permanent placement so that the individuals have the security themselves of knowing what they're going to be doing, what they're going to be expected to do. and my point is simply that we should try in as many instances as possible to make these permanent placements so that these individuals are not just
acting at a level of uncertainty about what their tenure is going to be in a particular office or location. so i thank you all. >> mr. chairman, i yield back to you. >> will the gentleman yield? >> yes. >> just a question, and i'm not trying to put words in your mouth, i'm just trying to understand. to the greatest extent possible, we should probably urge the putting up the active ig that's been doing a good job and see if that's not an active candidate for the senate? >> that's certainly a position that i would tyke, i have always been told that the proof of the pie is in the eating and if a person is doing a good job, there's nothing to suggest that he or she would not continue to do so. and i would certainly hope that
the senate would take that into consideration when there's a need for a permanent placement. >> once again when we talk about the shortcoming of the senate, we're always in agreement here in the house. >> well, thank you. >> and now we recognize the gentleman from indiana, the chairman of the full committee, someone who knows a great deal about inspector generals. mr. burton. >> i was a chairman emeritus, now it's the former chairman, can you tell me the difference? never mind. >> if you have to know, then you've been too long not the chairman. >> i see, i'm part of the othg, over the hill gang? >> we look at your picture, you look great, you looked dapper, you still look dapper. a rose by any other name, dan. the gentleman is recognized. >> are you guys enjoying all of
thi this? let me start off by saying we have over a trillion dollars in deficit this year and the potential for over $1 trillion in deficits every year for the next decade. makes one wonder why there wouldn't be more concern about oversight. i mean, the state department is so involved and so responsible for what's going on over in the middle east, i'm not saying that the acting ig is not doing an adequate job, but it just seems to me that one of the most important things that the president would want to do, especially in economic times like this is to get somebody in there that is responsible for looking after the expenses in a very thorough way. i mean afghanistan and iraq have been just such a drain on our resources over the past decade. it just boggles my mind to think
that the administration hasn't moveded on getting a permanent ig. and also, you know, you wonder how many things may have fallen through the cracks, i know mr. miller out there has worked on the problems that we talked about out in las vegas, those conferences and other things. and, you know, that sort of fell through the cracks, i mean they didn't catch that until a lot of those things have been done and there's some question about the gentleman who was in charge of that whole operation out there, whole area, might even have done something that was of a criminal nature and that he might even be tried before it all over. and it would seem to me that we want to catch those things in advance, instead of catching them way after the fact, if not way in advance or as close to the problem as possible. and so i'm not sure -- you probably have already answered this question, but let me just
ask you a question that you might not be able to answer and that is, can you give me an answer as to why the president hasn't made a decision on this? that's number one, and number two, are there not plenty of competent people who have worked in this area of government that the president could have nominated that would have been able to take over and do the job? >> well, as you know, the process to fill an ig position is a complicated process that involves a number of players, involves extensive vetting, it's an important process. we, from the ig -- >> let me just interrupt real quickly. the president has had three years to make a recommendation, over three years, almost four. and it just seems to me that even with -- it must be the president call ing me right now. let me shut this off. nope, it's my wife. she'll have to wait.
it just seems to me after 3 1/2 years, it would seem to me that he could have at least recommended somebody so that the vetting process could start, but to wait for 3 1/2 years and to know the costs that were involved and an awful lot of people said there's been a lot of waste, fraud and abuse in iraq and afghanistan and it just seems they would have had somebody all over that, instead of asking for money and spending the money without proper oversight. go ahead. >> i think we can all agree that while acting igs do a very, very good job. these positions should be filled as speededly as possible. i think that absolutely goes without saying. >> if i were talking to the president, i always frame my comments on the floor like this because we can't talk to the president. but if i were talking to the president, i would say, you ought to listen to mrs. fong because this should be done and should be done very quickly. mr. miller, or anybody else have
so if you will, thumb role in those situations to create an acting -- i mean ultimately, there is the whole question of what statutory authority and prosecute torl authority you would have, and i think that's a very good one. at the end of the day, if you have someone who's been selected by an agency or commission who is not confirmed, not voted by that, but simply thrown in there as the acting. administrative process to see that somebody is selected that is not simply a yes person for that entity. >> i think this situation does occur or has occurred over the past few years, the statute, the
reformat doesn't specifically address who has a vacancy, who becomes active. i think many people recognize that one of the best practices for the ig offices is to establish a very clear line of procession protocol is that public so that when an ig is incapacitated, in the best-case scenario, there is what happens when there's a vacancy. sometimes in offices that don't have such a protocol. or in some offices that the agencies may decide that they may get involved. we have seen different ways that those situations are handled. i can think of a situation where agencies had either a board or
commissi commission -- and in those cases, i think we established a good dialogue with the acting ig to educate and inform on how to carry out the ig's business. because there are potential questions -- dealing with -- those issues need to be sought through very careful. recusals may need to be thought about. when there's a vacancy that arises, be it the point of authority, be it the agency head, or whoever it is, on occasion has reached out and asked for a detailee from another ig office to come in and serve as the acting ig while a permanent ig is being recruited. and again, i think that's an option that could bei icexplore
depending on the situation, something that we would be happy to dialogue on. >> we appreciate that. we recognize the gentle lady from new york, somebody that very well knows these issues. >> thank you very much, and i want to certainly welcome everyone on the panel, but particularly mr. miller and congratulate you for your truly outstanding, creative, determined results for you -- you have really made all of us proud of you on both sides of the aisle. and also mr. miller, you recently testified before this committee on the gsa's outrageous conference in las vegas. is that right? and during the previous administration, you also conducted a vigorous investigation related to the.
>> do you believe that you would not have been able too achieve the results that you asheaved if you were an acting ig? >> i don't believe that. i believe that would hope i would do exactly the same thing. >> okay, let me ask it in a different way to make my point. you are a member of a community of exceptional igs, some of whom are in acting positions right now.
>> the ig of the pension benefits guarantee corporation, rebecca bats gave a very good testimony. and she testified that the absence of a permanent ig is mitigated by, and i want to quote her statement because i think they're important, and i quote, permanent, senior, executive audit and an investigative staff who remain in place throughout the transition from one inspector general to the next.
>> koimtd you really basically agree with her statement that the staff can make a difference, and is a very important part of getting the work done? >> fighting well qualified staff is extremely important. >> acting igs are by the same position are act iing -- is preferable. we should not accept the idea that an acting ig and their staff are not capable of performing excellence, vigorous oversight and achieving results that are just as meaningful as that permanent ig. thank you.
>> i thank the gentle lady. just in the nick of time, returns the gentle lady from california. for five minutes. >> i find this discussion kind of interesting and with all due respect a little wrong headed and the truth of the matter is that all of us are temporary, as members of congress. we have two-year term and follow this line of logic and none of us can be all that effective because we have temporary -- >> will the gentle lady yield? >> of course. >> we cannot be dismissed except for felonious behavior during that two-year period. we serve al the pleasure of no one except the next election, so mr. miller for example served under the bush administration confirmed and was then in limbo, if you were to use a catholic
term. i'm sorry, appointed both times, but he found himself going from appointed to acting and waited. so my point to you, and then i'll give you back the time, that is part of the discussion today is if you -- if you serve at the whim of the cabinet officer, and dismissal offends no one in the senate because they didn't confirm you, versus you have been put up, vetted, confirmed by the senate and now a dismissal be the cabinet office, regardless of party reflects directly on those people who confirmed, who typically the senators want to know why. there can be a few differences in the dismissal procession between an acting and a permanent.
>> my biggest concern is that this discussion is probably to be directed at the senate more so than at the president because it's the senate that oftentimes takes a long time to confirm individuals and as i understand it, with you mr. miller, you waited 270 days before you were confirmed by the senate. but i don't believe that in any way damaged your ability to do your job, did it? >> i waited about nine months after i was first nominated. in october of 2004, and then i was renominated in january of 2005. i remained it as a prosecutor and assistant united states attorney during that time, until i was confirmed and sworn in as inspector general. >> so you were not acting during
that time. let me address acting ig mary kendall, who is presently at the department of interior. he's been there since 2009 in an acting role. and has suspended or debarred 78 firms or individuals. she's also responsible for the investigation into the department's general management service. so i don't think we would at any point suggest that she hasn't done a good job, in fact a very effective job as an acting ig, correct? >> i know, mary, i think the world of mary, and i think she's done a great word. -- job. >> i can't begin to tell you how important i think you are in the role that you play, i want to focus on what we should be doing to make sure that the recommendations we make are actually implemented. because for the talk of billions
of dollars, of potential savings that you are able to ferret out in any investigation, unless the department additionally takes action, there is no hammer. how do we give you more teeth, is one question, two having been in your position for 12 or 10 years now, i guess. i recognize that this committee has take an real interest in ig recommendations and agency actions. i think every year you ask all of us to report to you on the status of our recommendations, which ones have been accepted,
implemented and which ones remain open. i think in terms of what can be done to move that process along, that is a tremendous step we see action result of that, because the agencies want to move along on those open recommendations, they want a good report. i think that's very important. what aadditional powers should we give you? >> in general? >> in general. it took -- that you just passed in the house of representatives, that includes a number of provisions that would really help igs in terms of computer matching, data gathering under the paper work reduction act,
and performing some of the ig acts, we're hoping that those provisions that relate to ig operations will get past in the senate as well. those are things that we have wanted as a community for a number of years. >> we put together a white paper with a lot of recommendations for inspectors general and i have previously testified to other recommendations, we will have to share those with you after the hearing.
>>. >> when i think of the national transportation safety board and the good work they do, actually the remarkable work they i do, and all they do is take recommendations which can or cannot be actually taken up by the industries that they are investigating. i don't know what we can do as a committee. i think it's a waste of taxpayer funds if all of these recommendations that are being made and the potential savings that are rejected in the $87 billion range, if we can't force these departments to take the actions of the inspector general. >> i thank the young lady without option.
mr. miller, the additional papers that you refer to. additionally, we will take the collated recommendations we have been taking for years from inspectors general directly available to you and include them in the record. it has been the policy under both chairman townsend and myself to collect those catalogs even if they don't have the authority, we do have the authority to see that the administration adheres to them and so i would love to work with the gentle lady on that. so in closing, we will go to the chairman emeritus for a quick remark. >> i just want to make it very clear that we have outstanding people working in the ig's offices and i wasn't inferring that there was any complaint on that. what i was saying and i think the gentle lady alluded to it that the president has a responsibility when he becomes
president to make the appointments that need to be made especially when they have to be confirmed by the snoot so believe a -- hoping for 3 1/2 years is not a sign that that's a responsible move by the administration. the president, you can excuse him for six months, you can excuse him for a year or maybe even 18 months under certain circumstances, but 3 1/2 years, almost to the end of his first term, assuming he has a second term is just too long. so i would say one more time whatever president, whatever party needs to be very attentive to making the selections at the various appointments as quickly as possible after his administration takes office. >> i think the gentleman will now dismiss our first panel and reset for our second panel.
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include authorization to continue our military presence in afghanistan. it requires a missile defense site on the east coast. continuing the developments of the f-35 joint defense fighters. you can see that debite tomorrow live on cspan. last week, the house armed services committee marked up the national defense authorization, members went through the bill line by line. california republican buck mckeon shares the committee, washington democrat adam smith is the ranking member. here's the two-hour 15 minute portion of the markup session.